Businesses like Zippy’s, Tanioka’s adjust to survive rail construction

Some businesses along the future rail line are finding different ways to keep customers coming back.

Cones, barriers and signs have become a fixture on Kamehameha Highway in Pearl City and Aiea, but a year after rail construction began, some businesses are still getting used to the impacts.

Paul Yokota, president of Zippy’s Restaurants, says five locations from Waipahu to Aiea are affected because of construction and have experienced a decrease in business.

“We’ve definitely seen a change in the timing and the amount of traffic to get to that location along those corridors,” he said.

So the well-known restaurant is trying something it has never done before. It’s passing out a punch card at its Waiau location. Customers will get a $10 discount after they spend $100.

“The landscape is changing. We have to make sure that we try and test new things. This may or may not work, but we’re certainly open to trying new things,” Yokota said.

Kamehameha Highway
Kamehameha Highway

Some of its regular customers say they will return no matter what, but others may not.

“It’s nice, but I don’t think it would keep me coming to this location,” said customer Cheryl Castillo.

Jack in the Box, located a block away, is advertising its own rail special: two burgers for $5 3-6 p.m. on weekdays.

In Waipahu, machines and concrete barriers are now up on Farrington Highway, affecting business at Tanioka’s Seafoods and Catering, which has been around for nearly 40 years.

“We gave our customers maps and stuff on how to get here through Mokuola or stay on Farrington and make a U-turn,” said general manager Justin Tanioka. “Slowly our lunch rush got better.”

But business during the late afternoon hours did not improve, so Tanioka’s changed its hours, closing two hours earlier Mondays through Thursdays.

“The sales weren’t there so we had to cut back on some labor and just overhead costs,” Tanioka said.

The company is also pushing its catering business this year, so it continues to survive.

“We’re just preparing for the worst and hoping for the best,” Tanioka said.

kamehameha highway rail construction

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